NEW DELHI: India robotics leader Miko, founded by three ex-IITians, on Tuesday introduced India’s first Hindi speaking child companion robot Miko 2. In addition to Hindi and English, Miko 2 will also speak in Spanish and Arabic. This Hindi version of the artificial intelligence-based robot aims to offer an unmatched experience to a whole new set of users, which helps children and parents with effective learning and development. ‘Ab Hindi Ho Jaye’ is the access to Hindi mode on Miko 2. To make the child companion more relevant for Indians, especially those who can only speak and comprehend Hindi, Miko 2’s new update has been specially created to address this necessity. Miko 2 is the latest version of the earlier introduced version of Miko which is a robot that can see, hear, sense, express, talk, recognise faces, remember names, identify moods, initiate a conversation, and learn from its own environment to intuitively develop a bond with a child. According to the company, Miko 2 addresses a complex need-gap of education, technology and entertainment.
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IS APPLE WATCH SERIES 7 A REAL UPGRADE?
The Apple Watch since its inception has been a desirable wearable and over the years, we have seen some great introduction in each new generation. Apple Watch Series 7 launched this year, features a bigger display, a new S7 SiP, a crack-resistant display, and fast charging. How different is it from Series 6 and is this the upgrade you have been waiting for let’s find out?
Apple has not really changed the design much. If you were wanting a real design change then you might be left wanting for more. Series 7 case-wise is bigger than Series6 and SE. Series 7 gets a bigger display the glass has curvy sides. The right side has the digital crown and a multi-function button just below it. Between these two is a microphone hole. On the left side, you’ll find a single wide cutout for the speaker, while all the sensors for tracking are on the underside. You get a wide range of strap designs to choose from. You can also use an older strap if you are getting the same size watch.
Series 7 has a 1.9-inch LTPO OLED display with a resolution of 396×484 pixels for the 45mm model. It has a peak brightness of 1000 nits when it’s active and up to 500 nits when it’s in the always-on state. It has an IP6X rating for dust resistance and is also water-resistant up to 50m.
Apple claims to have tweaked the watchOS 8 UI to take advantage of the bigger display. They have also brightened the display when it is on always-on state. I did find the difference myself as I have been using the Series 6 for a long time. Replying to messages from the watch seems to be easier due to the larger screen. You also get some cool new Apple watch faces, which enhance the curvy display.
PERFORMANCE & SOFTWARE
Apple S7 SiP powers the Apple Watch Series 7. Series 7 supports dual-band Wi-Fi, Apple’s U1 chip, and ultra-wideband antennas. It has health sensors for blood oxygen and heart rate tracking as well as the hardware to record an ECG. Something which I liked a lot was an addition of fall detection during workouts.
When testing the Apple Watch Series 7, it was running watchOS 8. The interface is very easy and seamless. You swipe on hand up and down the watch and you have it all. Get your notification updates and quickly back to home. If you have previously used an Apple watch then the process is something you are familiar with. You feel no lag with the Series7 and would enjoy maneuvering with the larger screen.
Taking calls on Series7 is very easy and clear. Often when my phone is not around, I do take calls on my watch and the audio quality is clear and the speakers don’t feel like I am taking the call from my watch. You don’t need to keep the watch too close to your mouth. You can take the call from your wrist distance, and it would be audible.
HEALTH & FITNESS
Apple watches have been well known for their health and fitness tracking. Series 7 is no different and would live up to all the parameters. Setting health goals to a competition setting the watch keeps you motivated and tracks your activities in the most accurate manner. I use the watch daily to track my workout and my daily activities. It pushes you to complete your circles which involve a Standing, Exercise, and Movement goal, which you can set for yourself.
You can track a wide variety of activity types with this Apple Watch such as strength training, HIIT, cycling, walking, and even swimming, and it tracked my heart rate constantly while working out.
Series 7 is capable of tracking blood oxygen saturation and takes around 15 seconds to measure your level. While SpO2 tracking is convenient, no wearable should be used as a replacement for a dedicated pulse oximeter. Series 7 can record an ECG, taking about 30 seconds to do so.
Health Card, which you create for yourself on your watch is very helpful. You can track your menstrual cycle to your health issues. You can go to your health app and do so. It tracks your fitness and health for you for a fitter and healthier tomorrow.
Sleep tracking is one place where the Apple watch still needs to work a little more. It still is not as accurate as others in the market. You will find a bit of inconsistency in your sleep cycle reading. But all in all, the Fitness and Health feature in the Apple watch is a boom in the wearable segment. For someone like myself who likes to know about my health on a constant basis and keep a tap on my lifestyle, the watch comes very handy.
Apple claims 18 hours of battery life on the Apple Watch Series 7, I have done nearly two days on a single charge. This includes workout tracking and sleep tracking as well.
VARIANTS & PRICE
The Apple Watch Series 7 is available in three case materials – aluminium, stainless steel, and titanium. The aluminum case is available in five colour finishes: Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Green, and (PRODUCT) Red. The stainless-steel case is available in Silver, Gold, and Graphite, while the titanium case is now available in Space Black and Titanium.
Apple offers two case sizes, 41mm and 45mm, and you have the choice of a GPS-only watch or one with GPS + Cellular connectivity. There are multiple strap options to choose from as well.
The Apple Watch Series 7 starts at Rs. 41,900 in India for a 41mm GPS-only model with an aluminum case, while the bigger 45mm model of the same spec will set you back by Rs. 44,900. If you want a GPS + Cellular Apple Watch Series 7, it will set you back by Rs. 50,900 or Rs. 53,900 for a 41mm or 45mm case respectively.
Series 7 is everything you would want from an Apple watch, but the only disappointment is it is not too different from its predecessor. Except for having a larger and brighter display you really don’t have too much of a change. You do get some new colors that stand out and shout out to be Series 7. The fast charge doesn’t come in India, therefore, the benefits we can’t receive. If you are buying an Apple watch for the first time, then maybe this one can be your pick. It does come at a premium value but also gives you a premium product. Series 7 might not be a real upgrade but as always is a great product from Apple.
SKODA’S NEXT BIG BET IN INDIA IS A COMPACT SEDAN, REPLACES THE RAPID
The Slavia has been unveiled recently to the world and will be launched in the market in early 2022.
At a time when the consumer and market are both turning towards SUVs, Czech carmaker Škoda in a bold move has revealed that its next bet in India will be a sedan. The Slavia has been unveiled recently to the world and will be launched in the market in early 2022. Built on Volkswagen’s heavily localised MQB-A0-IN platform, the Slavia will replace the now discontinued Rapid sedan in the market. It is the second car from the brand to be made on this platform after the Kushaq which was launched earlier this year.
Vertical black slats are upright and extend to the sides of the slim headlights.
Headlamps and taillights come with LEDs and crystalline details.
Skoda Slavia Interior.
According to Škoda, the Slavia comes with the widest body in the segment. It is 1,752 mm wide and 1,487 mm tall while the wheelbase stands at 2,651 mm. Both the headlamps and taillights come with LEDs and crystalline details. The wide, hexagonal grille with a chrome surround and vertical black slats is upright and extends to the sides of the slim headlights. The tailgate bears ‘ŠKODA’ in block lettering in the centre which looks premium. The car gets two-tone alloy wheels and the new metallic crystal blue, and the tornado red paintwork is both exclusives for the Indian market. In all, there is a choice of five body colours for the brand-new sedan. There are three trim levels – Active, Ambition and Style – for the new sedan. The top-end variant Style also comes with an electric sliding glass roof. Overall, the coupé-like design of the car impresses.
The new Slavia’s interior is based on the latest design concept of brands’ European models. A free-standing infotainment screen measuring up to 25.4 centimetres takes centre stage while the car also gets circular air vents. You also get climate control, ventilated front seats and leather upholstery. Then there’s a digital instrument cluster, ambient lighting and the two-spoke multifunction steering wheel made popular by the Kushaq. The cabin features SmartLink technology enabling the integration of smartphones while the higher trim levels provide access to MyŠKODA Connect mobile online services with ŠKODA Play Apps, which can be used to download a navigation function for the top-end infotainment system. For connecting and charging mobile devices via cable, there are two USB-C sockets in the centre console and another two in the rear while the car also comes with a wireless charging phone box in the front. According to Skoda, the car has a generous boot capacity of 521 litres.
Škoda will offer a choice of two petrol engines for the new Slavia. Both get a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard. For the 1.0 TSI with an output of 115 PS and 175 Nm, a 6-speed automatic transmission is optional, while the top-of-the-range 1.5 TSI delivering 150 PS and 250 Nm can also be fitted with a seven-speed DSG. The Stop/Start system is a standard feature on the car and Škoda says it contributes to low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The 1.5 TSI is equipped with active cylinder technology (ACT). When the engine load is low, this system automatically shuts down two cylinders, further reducing fuel consumption on the car. Automatic transmission or DSG variants also boast paddle shifts on the steering wheel.
The Slavia comes with many active and passive safety features. Occupants are protected by up to six airbags. These include airbags for the driver and front passenger as standard, as well as the optional front side airbags and curtain airbags. The sedan comes with ISOFIX anchors and top tether anchor points on the rear seats. The car also gets ESC along with Multi-Collision Brakes. Features such as Hill-Hold Control, rain and light sensors, and cruise control also find a place here so does tyre pressure monitoring system. The Slavia is also equipped with XDS and XDS+. This assistance system is part of the Electronic Differential System (EDS), which improves front-wheel traction. It reacts when the load on the inner wheels is reduced when cornering, and slows down the wheels under the reduced load, preventing them from spinning. Rear parking sensors are fitted as standard while the higher-trim variants come with a rear-view camera.
The writer is Senior Editor at carandbike.com
ONEPLUS NORD 2 5G GOOD VALUE FOR MONEY
OnePlus Nord 2 5G, a OnePlus device we have been waiting for since the brand made its way into the market, is now available and what we have always associated OnePlus with are good specs and better pricing. Over the years, we saw a jump in the price of smartphones and were wondering if OnePlus is drawing back on its biggest USP. Well, Nord 2 5G seems to have been a good rethinking by the brand in terms of price and specs.
Specifications: OnePlus Nord 2 5G sports a full-HD+ AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and supports HDR10+. OnePlus has used the MediaTek Dimensity 1200 processor to power the Nord 2. You get 6GB, 8GB and 12GB LPDDR4X RAM options with the OnePlus Nord 2, and either 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. Storage is not expandable on the Nord 2. There is support for dual 5G, 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6, NFC, and five satellite navigation systems. The OnePlus Nord 2 is a dual-SIM device.
Design: OnePlus Nord 2 5G takes its cues from its family. Looks a lot like the 9 Series. It has a big 6.43-inch display with a hole-punch camera on the top left corner. The panel has thin bezels, and only the chin is slightly thicker. You get a glass back for a premium feel and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection at the front and back. The button placement is quite good, with the power button on the right and the volume buttons on the left of the frame. The device is easy and comfortable to hold. The alert slider, a common sight on most OnePlus smartphones, is on the right just above the power button. The device misses out on a 3.5mm headphone jack. You get a secondary microphone on the top. The USB Type-C port sits at the bottom next to the dual-SIM tray.
I have the Green-Wood for review and what wins my heart is the back of this device. The mat finish nicely finished back. Making it look so distinctive and unique. If you want a device based on looks, get this one. You get your regular camera module is on the top left corner, and packs in three sensors. They are coloured in lighter green with a chrome-looking frame making it feel and look premium.
Software & performance: OnePlus Nord 2 runs OxygenOS 11.3 on top of Android 11. You get Google apps along with a few OnePlus apps and Netflix preinstalled on the device. OnePlus guarantees two years of software updates and three years of security updates with the device.
The device does offer a smooth experience. The default setting is at 90Hz, therefore using the device is a sleek and easy process. Using multiple apps and even using the device for video meetings didn’t lag or crash out at all. Did give the device to a gamer and the response was positive. High graphic games fared well will not result in high loss of battery.
Camera: OnePlus Nord 2 5G has a triple camera setup with a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 primary camera. The primary camera has an f/1.88 aperture and OIS. There’s also an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with a 119.7-degree field of view, and a 2-megapixel mono camera.
The primary lens gives you desirable images with no quality loss. You can capture memorable images which look natural. The ultra-wide-angle will capture enough but not up to the mark.
The portrait mode does its job well. Separating the object well from the background keeps the edges crisp.
OnePlus has introduced Nightscape Ultra mode on the Nord 2 to capture better photos in low light. It might take longer to capture an image on the Nightscape Ultra mode, but the results are brighter and better.
You get a 32 MP front camera and the selfies derived are as good as you would have wanted.
Overall, the camera is great in daylight and bright lighting. The Ultra-wide might not be the best but now you have Nightscape Ultra mode making your night and low light photography great.
Video recording tops out at 4K 30fps on the Nord 2.
Battery: The OnePlus Nord 2 weighs 189g and packs in a 4,500mAh battery. To top up the battery quickly, it comes with a Warp Charge 65W charger in the box which can be capable of taking the battery to 58 percent in 15 minutes and 98 percent in 30 minutes.
Verdict: Nord 2 5G is a device for everyone. Well priced with good specification. You get the device at a starting price of Rs 27,999 for the base variant which has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There’s also an 8GB RAM, 128GB storage variant priced at Rs 29,999, while the top-of-the-line option with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage is priced at Rs 34,999. Nord 2 is available in blue haze, gray sierra, and green-wood.
AUDI Q5 MAKES A COMEBACK IN INDIA WITH NEW DESIGN AND FEATURES
The launch of the Q5 facelift earlier this week has become Audi’s 9th product in India for 2021. Historically, the Q5 has been amongst the company’s bestsellers globally.
German luxury car brand has been on a launching spree in Indian in the year 2021. Be it electric cars, performance cars or luxury sedans—the list is quite long. But it is the highest-selling Q range of cars that were missing in action. And it is an important segment as almost half of the total sales of the brand come only from the Q category of cars. That void has now been filled with the launch of the Q5 facelift earlier this week, which has become Audi’s 9th product in India for 2021. Historically, the Q5 has been amongst the company’s bestsellers globally. The pandemic delayed its arrival in India by quite some time but now the SUV is here in 2 trims – Premium Plus and Technology. Audi says the new Audi Q5 combines a sporty character with excellent everyday usability and comes with a wide array of infotainment and assistance options. It is being manufactured at the Skoda Auto Volkswagen India plant in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
The front of the Audi Q5 comes with the trademark single-frame grille with an octagon outline
The sharpened exterior design of this highly successful model emphasises the Q identity
Audi Q5 Interior
The front of the Audi Q5 comes with the trademark single-frame grille with an octagon outline, which has sharper and better-defined edges. While the grille and the slats have chrome garnishes, the skid plates, roof rails, and the new foglamp casing get silver accents. The car also gets new 19-inch alloy wheels which differ in design according to variants, wraparound shoulder line, LED combination lamps, panoramic sunroof, and aluminium roof rails. It is available in five colour options – Navarra blue, Ibis white, Mythos black, Floret silver and Manhattan gray. According to Audi, the sharpened exterior design of this highly successful model emphasises the Q identity and embodies the Quattro DNA.
Atlas beige and Okapi brown in leather leatherette upholstery with inlays in Piano black finishing make for the interiors of the new Audi Q5. The 25.65 cm multimedia touchscreen comes with the third-generation modular infotainment platform MIB3. It has Audi’s latest MMI Touch, voice controls and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Another highlight is the B&O premium sound system with 19 speakers that produce 3D sound effects at 755 watts output. The SUV also gets 3-zone air-conditioning and contour ambient lighting with 30 colour options. You also get sensor-controlled boot lid operation, park assist with parking aid plus, electric front seats with driver memory, and an Audi phone box with wireless charging.
Audi says the redesigned Q5 promises better performance and an enhanced driving experience. Its 2.0 litre TFSI petrol engine generates 249 HP of power and 370 Nm torque which propels the car from 0 to 100 kmph in 6.3 seconds. It can reach a top speed of 237km/h. The car offers Adaptive suspension with damping control which is a boon on broken roads and most undulations are not felt inside the cabin. With Audi Drive Select, the driver can choose between six modes, ranging from comfort, dynamic, individual, auto, efficiency and off-road. And of course, there is the Quattro four-wheel-drive system that enables optimal grip in challenging terrains.
SAFETY & PRICES
The new Q5 gets as many as 8 airbags, including rear-side airbags, to enhance the safety of its occupants. While the Premium Plus variant is priced at Rs. 58.93 lakh the more expensive feature-loaded technology trim will set you back by Rs. 63.77 lakh (ex-showroom). Deliveries of the new Q5 will begin soon.
The writer is Senior Editor at carandbike.com
SAMSUNG ONE UI 4.0 UPDATE COMING TO INDIA SOON, OFFICIAL ROADMAP REVEALED
Korean tech giant Samsung recently revealed the Android 12-powered One UI 4 update roadmap for India on its Samsung Members app.
The company confirmed the roadmap, according to which Indian customers can expect One UI 4.0 to drop starting December. The Galaxy S21 series, the Galaxy Z Flip 3, and the Z Fold 3 will be the first to get Android 12 in India. Customers should receive an update notification in December, assuming everything goes well according to plan.
Availability is subject to change — the company added at the end of its lengthy list of devices.
Galaxy phones that should get Android 12-powered One UI 4.0 in January 2022 are Galaxy S21/S21+/S21 Ultra, Galaxy S20/20+/S20 Ultra, Galaxy S20 FE, Galaxy S10/S10e/S10+, Galaxy S10 Lite, Galaxy Note 20/20 Ultra, Galaxy Note 10/10+, Galaxy Note 10 Lite, Galaxy Z Flip, Galaxy Fold, and Galaxy Z Fold 2. Samsung will continue releasing One UI 4.0 for tablets, mid-range and low-cost phones — Galaxy A/M/F series — from February 2022.
Samsung has already started rolling out Android 12 for the Galaxy S21 series in countries like the USA and in Europe.
Samsung One UI 4.0 India update schedule:
1. December: Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G, Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G, Galaxy S21 5G, Galaxy S21+ 5G, Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
2. January: Galaxy Fold, Galaxy S10 series, Galaxy Note 10 series, Galaxy Z Flip, Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, Note 10 Lite, Galaxy Note 20, Galaxy S20 FE, Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, Galaxy Z Fold 2, Galaxy S20 FE 5G
3. February: Galaxy Tab S7+, Galaxy Tab S7, Galaxy A52, Galaxy A52s 5G, Galaxy A72
4. April: Galaxy Tab S6, Galaxy A71, Galaxy A51, Galaxy A32, Galaxy F62, Galaxy Tab S7 FE
5. May: Galaxy Tab S6, Galaxy A31, Galaxy M31, Galaxy M21, Galaxy M31s, Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, Galaxy A22 5G, Galaxy F22, Galaxy F42 5G, Galaxy M21 2021 Edition, Galaxy M32, Galaxy M32 5G, Galaxy M42 5G, Galaxy M52 5G
6. June: Galaxy A21s, Galaxy M51, Galaxy Tab A7, Galaxy Tab A7, Galaxy F41, Galaxy A22, Galaxy F12, Galaxy A22, Galaxy F12, Galaxy Tab A7 Lite
7. July: Galaxy M11, Galaxy M01, Galaxy A12, Galaxy F02s, Galaxy M02s, Galaxy M02, Galaxy A03s, Galaxy M12
As per GSM Arena, the stable update will bring a fresh look of the home screen, buttons, menus, and background to the table. Various emojis, GIFs, and stickers have also been added to the keyboard.
For better visibility and customised appearance, One UI 4.0 offers redesigned and upgraded widgets.
NEW-GENERATION MARUTI SUZUKI CELERIO LAUNCHED WITH MASSIVE UPGRADES
Maruti Suzuki has gone ahead and launched a brand-new generation of the car in the market, one that apart from new design and features also gets a new engine as well as platform.
Country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki has been a dominant player in the hatch segment for a very long time. Amongst many other cars that have contributed to this success is the humble Celerio which has been around for a few years. Now the company has gone ahead and launched a brand-new generation of the car in the market, one that apart from new design and features also gets a new engine as well as platform. And yes, in the times of high petrol prices, Maruti says the new Celerio is the most fuel-efficient car in India.
The new Celerio comes with a 3D organic sculpted design.
The new Celerio comes with a 3D organic sculpted design which has ensured an altogether new face on the car. It gets animated sweeping front headlamps, droplet-styled tail lamps and all-new radiant signature front grille with chrome and these contribute to a more contemporary look. The top variant also gets 15” Urbane black alloy wheels and front fog lamps. And you also get electrically adjustable side view mirrors and an oddly placed but practical keyless entry switch. The car is available in 6 colours including two new options – solid fire red and speedy blue along with arctic white, silky silver, glistening grey, and caffeine brown.
The Celerio has now grown in size which means it is more spacious with bigger cabin space, increased wheelbase, extended shoulder room, larger legroom, and enhanced luggage space. The AC vents get chrome accents while the side air vents get a bold barrel theme which look nice. The gear shift lever is new and comes with ergonomic grip in AGS variants. The 7-inch Smart Play studio infotainment system with smartphone navigation now finds a place in the Celerio. It is also compatible with Apple carplay and Android auto. New features like first in segment engine push button start and pollen type AC filter have also been introduced on the car. The steering can be tilted for adjustment and gets mounted audio controls. Second row is decent on space and the seat gets a 60:40 split format. The new Celerio gets an impressive boot space of 313 litres which is 40 % more than earlier and a lot better that its rivals and even the Swift!
The new Celerio gets the next generation K-Series engine with Dual Jet, Dual VVT which according to Maruti makes it the most fuel-efficient petrol car in India. The cars offers a mileage of 26.68kmpl on the VXi AGS variant but all other variants too will deliver in the range of 25 kmpl. A segment-first feature like Idle Start-Stop also contributes to getting better efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions by up to 19% across variants.
The engine is mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed Auto gear shift system. It makes 66 bhp @ 6000 rpm and around 89Nm@3500rpm which make it a nimble, agile car to drive. It’s a got a light clutch and a smooth gearbox which help in ensuring an easier ride. A big highlight on the new Celerio is its ride quality. The suspension is tuned well to take on the challenges of Indian roads and most bumps are taken care of well during the drive.
The new Celerio is built on Suzuki’s signature HEARTECT platform which means it gets a smooth structure for effective absorption and dispersion of impact force. The platform, according to Maruti, improves the crash, rigidity, and overall strength of the car. It sees an extensive use of high tensile steel and gets more than 12 safety features like dual airbags and ABS with EBD. It also offers a first-in-segment hill hold assist function with AGS and complies with all Indian safety regulations like frontal-offset, side crash, and pedestrian protection.
The 2021 Celerio has come in 7 variants in all – 4 of which are manual and remaining Automatic. The manual range starts at Rs. 4.99 lakh (ex-showroom) and goes up to Rs. 6.44 lakh. The AGS is priced between Rs. 6.13 lakh and Rs. 6.94 lakh. Looking at the features and upgrades it offers the car feels like a value for money offering when compared to its rivals. The impressive mileage figure is a huge bonus and there is always the Maruti trust factor to bank upon.
The writer is Senior Editor at carandbike.com
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